IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
I often wonder what keeps me going and striving to be the best I can be on Ironman race day. Today (well race day), I finally figured it out. I truly love racing in Hawaii. The course, the town, the people, my competitors, the pros, and the atmosphere all wrapped into the World Championships. I absolutely love racing and will continue to embrace and love this race!
My first thank you goes to Maria Thrash for helping improve my swim. I may not have had a faster swim, but I felt nice and long…just got behind the wrong group after the turn around and could not get out of the mix. The swim was like being in a washing machine. The current forced me right into the buoy line on the way out so “open” water never existed for me and once we rounded the boat we had big swells and a group of people I was unable to swim around!
The bike was pretty incredible, plenty of sunshine, tailwinds for the first 50 miles, and 100’s of men blowing by me on that bike ride to Hawi. I remember smiling and singing…”Hey now you’re an all-star get you game on…lets play…” as I climbed the headwinds up to Hawi! Singing makes me smile, but I am sure others around me thought I was a bit crazy or something along those line. The descent out of Hawi was magnificent! Awesome tailwinds, very little of those famous cross winds, just a beautiful, quick descent back to the Queen K highway and home. Once back on the Queen K highway, I quickly realized we would have a head wind for the next 30 miles. I settled back and smiled saying…ok…let’s go play. I accomplished that goal and actually felt very good. A little vomiting on the way back and a lot of emptying my bladder let me know I was fully hydrated and ready to run!
The awesome volunteers in transition put cold towels over my shoulders and head, which really helped me too cool down quickly. I then exited T-2 and headed up Palani to begin 26.2 miles of fun! The first 2 miles seems to be very difficult for me, between tired legs, and mentally letting myself wallow in that feeling, I was worried that it would be a struggle on the run. But, then I saw Jeni, Jim, and Shelia on Alii Drive and they totally changed my outlook on the run. They were cheering, smiling, and sending me such positive energy, that I began to smile and within a ½ mile my pace improved dramatically and I knew right then and there that I could run! Next, I saw Kevin running and he looked great! The 10 miles on Alii Drive were very hot and we had quite a bit of sunshine. Then, I saw Crissie Wellington, running on Kuaikini and 3:00 min. later saw Miranda Carafee sprinting down Palani…the top two women were going to finish so close to each other. I was in the Energy Lab through 16 miles before I knew it, 10 miles to go. Ahhh, but I began to struggle on the run and those dark thoughts returned and the next 3 miles were a struggle. When I returned to the Queen K highway and 6.5 miles to go, I realized how close the finish line was, hopefully less than an hour to go. I ran a 3:51, one of my best runs in a long time!
The finish line on Alii Drive is so incredibly magical and you begin to run as if you just started a race…smiles, high fiving people, crying, laughing, all of the days emotions come out to play during the last ½ mile stretch of road. When I arrived at the finish line and Mike Reilly said…”Laura Sophiea, you are an IRONMAN”, I burst into tears and looked up as my friend Nanette Wien, put a lei on me and Shelia Howard, caught me to put an exclamation point on this Ironman day! Ironman 21 was in the books and # 22 is waiting in 2012. 10:45:45 New AG record!
A special thank you to everyone who made it possible for me to reach for my goals, especially Kevin who has always believed in me, my girls…knowing they were following me from Michigan, and my mom who protected me along the way. One more thank you for being a part of Team SOAS and the SOAS clothing line. My first ironman race in 25 races without chafing. Amazing clothing!! Thank you all!!
Mahalo and see you in 2012 for # 22!